SA police has apprehended an abalone-smuggling syndicate which has earned about R500 million from their operations.
Following an early morning raid in Port Elizabeth and its surroundings, SAPS related that not fewer than 10 suspects involved in the crime were arrested.
According to the police, those arrested are perpetrators of the biggest abalone-smuggling syndicates in the country.
They have allegedly earned about R500 million from their operations in the Eastern Cape and other parts of South Africa.
SAPS said an extended investigation targeting an international abalone syndicate led to the arrest
A Media Statement from the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (HAWKS) said: “The alleged masterminds of one of the biggest suspected abalone-smuggling syndicates in South Africa, has been smashed.
…The joint operation was executed by SAPS specialized forces and swooped on seven addresses simultaneously. The suspected abalone-smuggling syndicate, which has links in China, has been a subject of intense investigations.
During the raid, members confiscated various items which are currently subject to further investigations. All the suspect aged between 19 and 57 are expected to make their first appearance at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate on charges of racketeering and abalone smuggling.”
Hawks National Head Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza divulged that more arrests are imminent as the investigation unfolds.
He praised the investigation team saying they thrived under trying circumstances and managed to arrest the suspects.
That, he added, “will definitely break the backbone of abalone poaching in the country.”
The population of abalone are said to be critically low. This is so because poaching enforces the over-exploitation of abalone.
Abalone problem in South Africa is traced to local community members who are paid money or handed drugs by syndicates to illegally remove abalone from the ocean.